Friday, January 25, 2013

In which I am a skeptic

It’s hard to believe that it was only a year ago that I posted pictures of the arduous, snowy trek from Walla Walla to PNER convention with Heather.

I actually received the offer for my current job while at convention last year. I read the offer email on my phone in the hotel room and vowed to myself that I would deal with its implications when I got home. And now here I am.

These days, home is much closer to the convention site. From my front door to the Embassy Suites Portland Airport is 54 minutes in light traffic, so I opted not to stay at the convention hotel. Instead, Heather stayed at my house and we commuted to convention each morning.

While not nearly as “star-studded” as in years past, this year’s convention had a decent mix of speakers. Heather pointed out that this year overlapped a lot with last year in terms of topics—horse health, horse nutrition, trailer maintenance. This year had a little more discussion of the woo-woo new age holistic treatments, which I actually found valuable in terms of getting a clearer view of why someone might choose to use them. I remember a couple years ago I felt pretty “out there” when I sought out a bodyworker for Otto. :) These days, bodywork is basically old hat. Now were talking about reiki and cupping and nonsense like that.

This year, I found myself tuning out the discussion of the five “elements” that horses can be until I started thinking of them as personality descriptors and not necessarily as medically relevant. Same when we are talking about energy meridians and acupuncture. I don’t believe in Qi in the way that it is explained spiritually, but I can absolutely see how using conductive needles to influence the chemical/electrical impulses of the body could be useful. In eastern medicine, I find that if you strip out the spirituality, you’re left with certain facts that have a biological basis. On that basis, I’m willing to at least listen.

So anyway, that stuff was interesting (if not useful) and so was the thermal imaging presentation.

I think if I had any input into the kind of speakers we have next year, I would try to cover more horsemanship topics. This can be hard to do in a lecture hall, but I think that more talk about the biomechanics, balance, health and nutrition of the rider would be very helpful, much like we had with Deb Bennett and Donna Snyder-Smith three years ago. Or perhaps, if we are trying to get a more holistic approach, get someone with some expertise to talk about proper rider stretching, chiro, yoga, and the like. Or someone who is a trainer/coach to talk about working through emotional issues like lack of confidence and lack of motivation—things I think most riders face from time to time.  The last couple conventions have been very horse-centric. Why not talk more about the rider’s part in it? (As someone who has owned a very talented horse and still not excelled, I’m pretty sure the horse is only half—or less—of the winning equation.) 

We had a changing of the guard at the convention this year, so I can't wait to see what our new organizers will come up with—even if it is three more equine nutritionists! 

As always, the highlight of convention for me was the used tack sale. I’m a huge sucker for cheap tack and equipment, so it is probably for the best that this only comes around once a year. The best part was that I was able to sell my old Trailmaster for the price I wanted, which offset some of the pain of buying the new one. I also picked up two sets of saddle bags to tinker with for only $15. I figure I can pick my favorite and bring the others back to resell next year!

Can you believe it was only $15 for both of these? It almost felt like stealing.

My favorite find was courtesy of Carlene, though. She sent an email before convention saying that she was cleaning out several years of barn supplies and wanted to know if anyone had any specific requests. So now I am the proud owner of a bale bag with wheels. I’ll be using it to protect my expensive bales of weed-free hay. And because it has wheels, I can just roll it up into the empty side of the trailer. It’ll save a lot of mess in the back of my truck, too.
Who knew something so big and ugly could make me so happy? (See also: Blue when I first bought him.)
So, all in all, another great PNER convention. It was fun to see everybody and get a little jolt of motivation for the coming season.Now if only it would stop raining so I can get out and ride!


  1. Great to see you (briefly) at convention! Please pass your thoughts re: convention speaker topics to our new prez and vice prez--they are looking for input, but you gotta speak up SOON!

  2. Enjoyed your rundown of convention & speakers! I agree wholeheartedly that topics more in tune with what the rider contributes to the ride would be very interesting & probably entertaining too :-)